Throughout their day, volunteers spent time painting, washing windows, doing yard work and detailing wheelchairs as well as cleaning beds, residents’ bedrooms and the organization’s basement. The students also read Bible studies with the residents, sang hymns and played bingo.
Working alongside faculty advisor Sara Olson, who works in the Office of Admissions, and her husband’s nonprofit Both Hands Foundation (BHF), Belmont’s Bruin Recruiters wanted to volunteer together to impact their community, both locally and globally. BHF is an organization that serves widows in the community in a practical way while also raising money for orphan care and adoptions. After a visit to a partner orphanage in 2011, BHF founder JT Olson realized the need and came up with a concept to help. By assisting in mobilizing college groups to hold what BHF calls “big build projects” sponsored through letter writing campaigns, all money raised goes back to the orphanage to assist those needs.
The Belmont students wrote letters to family and friends two weeks before the build in an effort to raise money, and the student who raises the most funds will take the resources and letters to the orphanage in person. To date, the group has raised more than $8,000 with more money coming in daily.
Although this model has been done across the country at other campuses, Belmont is the first accredited institution to participate in Both Hands Foundation’s “Big Build.”
Sara Olson said because the Bruin Recruiters team has grown so large in recent years, it can be difficult to “remain connected to one another in meaningful ways. Projects like this one give us a chance to spend time with one another in the margins of life.”
Organization president Jared Delong is passionate about the importance of serving, especially in a leadership position, and felt it was important to show fellow Recruiters the importance of integrating service into the organization. “In the end, I feel that if we’ve raised enough money to save one orphan from dying alone on the side of a street at night, then that’s a good enough reason for us… It’s not about us, it’s just not.”